The 12 People Skills You Need to Succeed Without Authority

by Dec 5, 2016

Today’s workplace requires you to engage and collaborate throughout the organization. To succeed you must know how to influence others especially when you do not have positional nor decision making authority. You can achieve this with these 12 people skills.

The 12 People Skills You Need to Succeed Without Authority

by Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™

People skills

1. Adapting to personality type, generation, culture.

Highly successful people are great at spotting differences in people and turning personality differences into teamwork. They turn generational gaps into bridges. They convert cultural divides into global solutions.

Read: Communicating with different generations

2. Communicating with honesty not bluntness.

Bluntness is a privilege afforded you by another. When you assume the privilege of bluntness, you leave a scar. It paints you as an obnoxious fool with no emotional intelligence — and no real power. Diplomatic honesty, on the other hand, shows you respect others and highlights your ability to collaborate for results.
Being blunt without permission leaves a scar; being honest with diplomacy leaves a lasting memory.

3. Confidence and humility.

People SkillsConfidence and humility are not opposites. They are partners for collaboration. Being confident in your abilities allows others to easily tap you as a resource. Being humble enough to honor other talents allows you to collaborate well. This balance moves you to be grateful for applause and to applaud others as well.
[Tweet “Be confident in your knowledge and humble in giving it”]. Leave arrogance by the wayside and succeed with others.

Read: How soft skills can be learned

4. Questioning not threatening.

Asking great questions delivers much to any team or project. It clarifies assumptions, opens discussion, unearths possibilities, prevents blind siding, fuels discovery, facilitates conflict resolution, feeds learning, and fosters continuous improvement.

If you can ask great questions without threatening others, insulting their logic and intelligence, or embarrassing their positions, you earn trust and admiration for your contribution. Replace questions like don’t you think with open-ended (how, what, where…) questions that produce true dialogue.

5. Realistic optimism.

Optimists and pessimists debate which is better. Pessimists believe that optimists have their heads in the clouds and ignore the truth. Optimists believe that pessimists are uninspired change resistant complainers who block success. Both miss the mark.
If you operate with realistic optimism you inspire everyone while identifying the challenges to minimize risk and increase success.

Read: Mindset – The Energy You Bring to Work Ripples Out Beyond the Workplace

6. Thick skin & a warm heart.

In working with others, your ideas may take a few hits along the way. Employees who get offended when their ideas aren’t used become a liability to momentum. If you have a thick skin when taking feedback and a warm revenge-free heart in contributing, you establish a balanced reputation. It will be clear that you are an asset to any team.

7. Thirst for knowledge and ability to change.

[Tweet “Be known as someone who easily learns and evolves”]. If you see each day as a fountain of learning and a chance to evolve, others will be drawn to you. You will also survive many reorganizations. One scientist survived seven of these events because, as management said, “We can put her in many departments and she adapts and hits the mark.” Be versatile, not comfortable.

8. Focus on results.

There is magic in focusing on results. It helps everyone to filter out office politics, redirect tangents, move past slights, and sustain momentum. As long as this focus doesn’t blind you to others’ opinions and contributions, it is a beneficial skill!

People Skills

9. Giving before taking.

When you have little or no authority, coming on too strong with questions or ideas can reduce your credibility. Give commitment before assuming trust. Give applause before taking it. Give the extra effort before asking for official responsibility. Show commitment to listen as well as contribute. It sets the tone of collaboration.

10. Taking small steps to big ideas & results.

High achievers often have big ideas. When they resist the many steps to achieving those results, they alienate others. If you are inspired to set big goals and work hard toward achieving them, your can-do reputation will spread fast and wide. You will be seen as someone who can help set new goals as well as hit the mark even from the weeds.

11. Finding the story to effect change.

Achieving results requires effecting change along the way. If you don’t have the authority to issue mandates, unearthing the story is the way to success. Everyone you must work with has a story, a viewpoint, which will either block or feed success.
Even official leaders must often influence other teams over whom they have no authority. One of my clients was tapped for a senior leadership position because (as they told her) “you are able to find the story to bring about change”. Her questions, listening, discussion, and belief in others’ talents have produced many changes and results.

12. Open mindedness not indecisiveness.

Achieving results with others comes from knowing that open-mindedness is not the same as indecisiveness. Remember this and you will be able to respond appropriately when poor collaborators confuse the two. You will be able to reconsider your view with new developments. You will shine in considering all the possibilities to come to collaborative decisions in the time frame needed. Neither narrow-minded snap judgments nor analysis paralysis leads to success. Consider all views and be able to offer an informed opinion sooner than later.

[Tweet “Develop these 12 people skills to be valuable in a today’s collaborative workplace.”] They make you highly desirable when ad hoc teams are formed. They catch the eye of those deciding on succession planning. These people skills hone your long term career portfolio for future leadership positions.

This list of people skills is also a great reservoir of specifics for your resume and cover letter. Phrases like excellent communication skills say little about your strengths. However, examples from your work that illustrate these 12 people skills distinguish you from other applicants. They show how you can break down obstacles and succeed without authority. These people skills underscore your collaborative prowess.

Is there a #13 for this list? What do you think?

Originally posted in LinkedIn Pulse   ©2014 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Kate Nasser Contributor
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™ delivers workshops (in person and online), keynotes, coaching, consulting for superior customer service, teamwork, employee engagement, and leading change. Now in her 26th year in business, Kate energizes everyone with inspiration AND practical takeaways. Web site:
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